Drug abuse prevention programming: Do we know what content works?

Stewart I. Donaldson, Steve Sussman, David P. MacKinnon, Herbert H. Severson, Thomas Glynn, David M. Murray, Elaine J. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


This article summarizes the theoretical underpinnings, substantive contents, and limitations of comprehensive social-influences-based drug abuse prevention programming. This type of programming has produced the most consistently successful preventive effects. There is some evidence that one major part of these programs, changing social norms, is an essential ingredient for successful drug abuse prevention programming. Research suggests that these effects may not be contingent on the use of refusal assertion training, a prototype activity of social-influences-based prevention programs. Because programs, when disseminated to the public, often contain only a subset of lessons from the social influences curriculum, there remains the potential error of implementing a combination of lessons that may not be effective. Further, there is evidence that other types of prevention programming, such as physical consequences programming, may be successful in some situations. Finally, social-influences-based programming may not be as effective with some subpopulations such as high-risk youths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)868-883
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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